Zone 2 for 2022.

A new year brings new opportunities. I’m happy to move beyond 2021 and map out my next 12 months of health, wellness, work and fun. Looking back at 2021, I learned a lot and experienced plenty of high and lows, peaks and valleys.

A few of my peaks. Hiking the Grand Canyon from the South Rim to North Rim and then back with family, covering 46 miles and 13.6K vertical feet in record heat (114 F). An incredible feat, and experience. Another was running my first marathon. It was the 50th anniversary of the NYC Marathon and the return of the race after Covid-19 shut it down in 2020. I never thought I could run 26.2 miles but wanted to so I joined Team Determination, an American Cancer Society team, and followed a wise training plan and hit my goals; 1) Show up on race day healthy; and 2) finish the race healthy. Bam! I’m hooked.

Heading down South Kaibab to North Kaibab covering 23.50 miles on Day 1

Now for my valleys. They were tough and they came all at once. I broke my shoulder skiing in March when a snowboarder flattened me on Scotty’s Runs at Mammoth Mountain. Then in the weeks that followed I received a crazy blow in my work life that knocked me off my game for months. That was my breaking point. I was a mess with my confidence and mental health at an all time low. Not easy to share but my truth.

A friend recently asked how I managed to pull myself out of this dark place. It took time and I drew upon my support system. My friends and family were there for me, listening and supporting me patiently. Therapy helped me sort out my feelings, what was reality, what was not, and tools to find my way back to myself. Then there was exercise. The Grand Canyon and the Marathon were big in my mind, body and soul recovery. The effort of setting such clear fitness goals helped me focus on a positive experience daily and reign in runaway thoughts. The training revealed how much I enjoy, and benefit from, endurance fitness.

I discovered that endurance training is my thing going forward. This type of training is realistic and rewarding. I’m an endorphin junky so it is a nice surprise to realize how helpful consistent walking, hiking, or jogging is to my overall health.

This is the inspiration for kicking off my 2022 Zone 2, 30-day FitLife Challenge, #Z2FLC. I’m inviting you to exercise 5 days a week for a realistic amount of time – for you. That can be 20, 30, 45 minutes a day, consistently. Zone 2 is moving at pace that is conversational and over time has significant benefits to your overall endurance and wellbeing.

The big benefits of Zone 2 are the following;

  • It builds aerobic base and endurance which enhances ability to sustain sub threshold pace for longer periods.
  • It is the foundation to build threshold fitness.
  • Allows you to recover more quickly between higher intensity efforts
  • By sticking to lower heart rates, over time you will increase your pace at the same heart rate output. This is due to increased aerobic efficiency, and it sets off many positive training adaptations

So join me and focus on consistency over intensity. Start with a 20 min walk or bike ride each day. Once this becomes part of our routine we can increase the time or the effort. Let’s build something simple that we can do daily, and enjoy. Let’s build a personal system.

My first marathon, The TCS New York City Marathon November 7, 2022

“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones


The “Why” behind setting goals.

A new year brings with it the chance to reflect on what do I want to add, change, create for myself in the months to come. I run Fitlife Challenges throughout the year but I see far more interest from my friends, family and members to invest their energy in their health come January.

It makes sense because we have this fresh new start after the holidays to look at January as a blank slate to map out what we want to accomplish. My wish for Fitlifers is to reflect on the next 12 months and taking the advice of Kelly McGonigal, Stanford pHD, in her newest book, The Joy of Movement, project out one year from now and decide what is one change you would most like to see happen so your future-self is grateful you made this change?

Is it adding a type of joy to your life (playful, creativity, adventure, etc) or potentially reduce a suffering (health related medications, the blues)? This vision helps support your resolve to change your approach to behavior. So when you start to list your goals, try to see how they align with your future-you values. This helps shift the focus from a shame-based, personal judgement that comes from diet deprivation or exercise torture perspective to the joy or freedom these new habits can empower.

Personally when looking at future-me I want to be sharp, strong and healthy so I can live a very active life involving travel and adventures with my girls, husband and friends with no limitations. Emotional health is also key. I find daily exercise keeps me grounded and emotionally more stable so I can show up better as a mom, and stronger at work. Therefore I want to keep that working for me (and I’m pretty sure everyone in my life wants me to keep that up as well!)

So take some time to reflect on your “why” and tie it to your goals. I think you may find it easier to wake up one hour earlier every day to move or to take pause when you find yourself eating something that makes you feel icky afterwards. I hope it helps.

Let’s do this! Welcome to your newest 30 Fitlife Challenge #30flc.

To your health.



FLC Healthy Habit 9

Avoid unnecessarily adding fat to food

Do not overthink this one. If you add less fat to foods, you will eat fewer calories and hence lose more weight. Fat is necessary in our diet and most of us eat adequate amounts of fat through cheese, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and dairy products.

Remember healthy fats help with satiety and most foods that contain fat also contain protein and additional vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, B12, and more. Some of the healthiest fats include olive oil, peanut oil and canola oil. Nuts and seeds are a good fat source as well. The fats found in fish such as salmon, tuna, and makerel are also considered healthy. Vegetable oil fats are second best.

Animal fats, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are not as healthy. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils found in products like margarine and many processed foods are the worst. Hydrogenated fats go through a heating process that has been shown to negatively impact cholesterol levels and overall health. The body just doesn’t know how to process these fats versus naturally occurring fats. Spinning(R) 8-week weight loss program

How to do it:

  1. Stick to the healthy fats such as olive oil or canola oil for cooking and baking.
  2. If having a salad, add olive oil and vinegar versus ranch dressing.
  3. Avoid margarine and “tub” spreads.
  4. Avoid frozen foods, breaded foods and french fries. Most have been pre-fried before they were frozen.
  5. Pick peanut or almond butter for toast versus cream cheese or butter.
  6. Pick hummus or salsa for vegetables versus creamy dips
  7. Avoid deep fried foods

AvocaDOPE people!


FLC Healthy Habit 8

Avoid Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Fats

This is a big one. Check the labels and avoid foods that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils/fat (also know as Trans fats) in the ingredients. These are the bad fats. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fat — also called trans-fatty acids — both raises your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

Researchers from Wake Forest University discovered eating trans fats increased the amount of fat around the belly. “Diets rich in trans fat cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight even when the total dietary calories are controlled.” Trans fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. They contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Here is an important statistic, even small amounts of trans fats can harm health: for every 2% of calories from trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%.

Granted, trans fats are found in small amounts in meat or dairy but they are primarily formed through an industrial heating process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature. As a result foods made with it are less likely to spoil and have a longer shelf life. Good for shelf life, not good for you.

I’m not bashing fat. We need some fat in our diet. It’s a major source of energy and helps you absorb some vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, muscle movement and more. But some fats are good and some fats are bad in the long run. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Bad ones include industrial-made trans fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fat). Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.

Make it your goal to avoid hydrogenated fats entirely but if you insist on eating hydrogenated fat containing foods, the suggested safe limit is 2 grams per day. If you see the words hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or interesterified fat (a new and unhealthy type of fat that food chemists have learned that if you put fully hydrogenated fats through a few more processes, they become less solid and product friendly — often found in wraps and burrito shells), pick something else.

How to do it?

  • Pick farm to table. Choose foods in their original purest form. Fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy, cheese, fish, organic meats, and whole grain foods do not contain hydrogenated fats.
  • Avoid deep-fried foods.
  • Avoid “breaded” foods.
  • Avoid margarine and tub spreads.
  • Read the labels of all the food items you buy and avoid buying anything with the words “hydrogentated”, “trans-fatty acids”, “partially hydrogenated fats”, and “shortening” (yes crisco) listed in the ingredient category.
  • Prepare your own food from original ingredient
  • Limit convenient foods
  • Limit eating out. Most store and restaurant breads contain hydrogenated fats. Most eating establishments use bread products containing hydrogenated fats and cook with shortening or margarine. Good to know what your favorite eateries use to cook with and avoid fast food.

Go natural. I like to eat food in its simple, natural, organic form. If I buy prepared or packaged food I want to be able to recognize and understand what each ingredients is versus a chemistry assignment.